Britta Hershman

Britta Hershman

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I love seeing the world through monochromatic eyes, and I believe that things don't have to be perfect in order to be perfect photographic subjects. I can't help noticing light and shadow, contours, shapes, and textures, and I feel compelled to capture them: digitally or on film, using anything from modern digital equipment to antique cameras with film that expired decades ago. I enjoy shooting with plastic cameras. The Holga and Diana's controls are limited, but that limitation can also be liberating and exhilarating. With a single shutter speed and with aperture settings reduced to "sunny" or various gradations of "cloudy," they force me to be creative, thoughtful, and willing to take risks. I am also a fan of instant photography. I'm addicted to the thrill of carefully searching out a subject, waiting for the right light, composing, and pressing the shutter... and immediately being rewarded with a finished, complete work of art in my hands. With instant cameras just as with plastic cameras, I enjoy the challenge of the limited controls and the extra amount of attention required to achieve the desired results in-camera. My favorite developer is caffenol-c, a stain developer made from instant coffee, vitamin c, and soda ash. Caffenol-c is what gives my film images their espresso brown tones, and I couldn't be happier with it: it's simple, eco-friendly, and it smells good, too. I've also been studying alternative printing methods, especially cyanotypes and van dyke prints. Here again, coffee is useful. I've found that a fresh, warm batch of coffee is an excellent toner, transforming the Prussian blue of the original cyanotype into shades of brown and gray.... or giving the already brown-toned van dyke prints an antiqued look. When it comes to photography, I like to follow my whims and learn as much as I can about the processes of yesterday and today. These techniques, along with whatever I may discover tomorrow, make up my own take on photography... Brittography.

Piazza del Popolo

Published November 12th, 2011

One of my favorite places in Rome is Piazza del Popolo. A vast open space, paved with cobblestones and bordered by an ancient city gate, three churches, numerous sculptures and fountains, and a monumental park descending from the Pincian Hill, it's part outdoor living room and part outdoor museum. And of course it's also a living, breathing Roman square, with scooters, taxis, buses, and cars zipping around its edges.

The near-twin churches of Santa Maria in Montesanto and Santa Maria dei Miracoli hold particular charm for me... I can't seem to photograph them enough!

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Coffee

Published November 9th, 2011

Cyanotypes are known for their luminous shades of Prussian blue. But as beautiful as that shade of blue is, what if it's not the right color for a certain subject or mood? Well, cyanotypes are wonderfully versatile, and it turns out that the colors can be altered by toning the print in different liquids. Some of these are specially formulated chemicals, while others are common liquids found around the house. And...

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Cyanotypes

Published October 23rd, 2011

What do you get when you paint a sheet of watercolor paper with a special photosensitive liquid, then expose it to sunlight with a negative pressed over it?

Well, it depends.

I suppose there are any number of possible outcomes. But if you use a certain combination of chemicals, expose the paper to the sun for the correct amount of time, and wash the print in water, then, with a little luck, you'll end up with a cyanotype -- a beautiful, unique, blue-and-white print.

I've been studying and practicing this historic method of printmaking, which was invented by Sir John Herschel in 1842... and enjoying every moment.

There are different ways to tone cyanotypes to alter the blue coloring, and there are plenty of other alternative print methods to explore. But for the moment, I'm enjoying the pure Prussian blue of the cyanotype. From choosing a subject and composing the shot down to the final blue image fixed on watercolor paper, printmaking has added a whole new (and fantastically fun) ...

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Cathedral Architecture

Published July 4th, 2011

There are a thousand ways to photograph Ferrara's cathedral. The medieval mystique of its facade will captivate you even amid the bustling foot and bicycle traffic, while architectural inconsistencies on its side tell the story of how its physical form has morphed over the centuries.

On this particular day, I chose to capture it in a double exposure taken with my Parisian Diana+ camera.

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